Red Sox prospect Allan Castro takes another step forward in first season stateside

Allan Castro can no longer be called the reigning Red Sox Latin Program Position Player of the Year. That distinction now falls to infielder/outfielder Andy Lugo, who received the honor on Monday.

Castro, however, put together a strong first season in the United States after being named the organization’s Latin Program Position Player of the Year in 2021.

Following a 2021 campaign in which he posted a .756 OPS in the Dominican Summer League, Castro made the jump to the Florida Complex League for the start of the 2022 season. In 39 games with Boston’s rookie-level affiliate in Fort Myers, the switch-hitter slashed a respectable .279/.355/.451 with four doubles, four triples, three home runs, 17 RBIs, 19 runs scored, eight stolen bases, 13 walks, and 32 strikeouts over 141 plate appearances.

Though he may have been overshadowed by fellow outfielder Miguel Bleis, Castro still ranked 11th in batting average, 26th in on-base percentage, eighth in slugging percentage, ninth in OPS (.805), 11th in isolated power (.172), 13th in speed score (7.8), and 11th in wRC+ (122) among FCL hitters who made at least 140 trips to the plate this season, per FanGraphs.

Not long after the Florida Complex League season came to a close, Castro and several other Red Sox minor-leaguers earned a promotion to Low-A Salem. He registered just one hit in his first five games with Salem but ended the year by going 5-for-18 (.278) with a double, a triple, four RBIs, and five runs scored in his final five games.

“Castro took a significant step forward this season,” Red Sox assistant general manager Eddie Romero told BloggingtheRedSox.com via email. “He’s continued to grow and gained a lot of strength. Additionally, he found ways to make his swing more efficient and started using the whole field more often.”

Between the two affiliates, Castro logged 232 1/3 innings in left field, 84 innings in center field, and 24 innings in right field. The 6-foot-1, 170-pounder recorded four outfield assists and committed just one error all year.

“His athleticism is starting to show itself more on the field,” Romero said. “He is sort of a sleeper prospect who we expect will do more things in 2023.”

Castro, 19, is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 53 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The Red Sox originally signed the native Dominican for $100,000 as an international free-agent coming out of Santo Domingo in July 2019.

At that time, Castro was a middle infielder, but he has since made the transition to the outfield and figures to stick there moving forward. Taking into account that he does not turn 20 until next May, Castro is projected by SoxProspects.com to return to Salem for the start of the 2023 season.

(Picture of Allan Castro: Bryan Green/Flickr)

Red Sox infield prospect Chase Meidroth gets pro career off to strong start with Low-A Salem

Chase Meidroth, who the Red Sox selected in the fourth round of this summer’s draft out of the University of San Diego, ended his first professional season on a strong note with Low-A Salem.

After being scouted by J.J. Altobelli and signing with Boston for $272,500, Meidroth appeared in just three Florida Complex League games before earning a promotion to Salem on August 9. In 19 games with the Red Sox, the right-handed hitting infielder batted .309/.424/.559 to go along with five doubles, four home runs, 12 RBIs, 15 runs scored, four stolen bases, 12 walks, and nine strikeouts over 85 plate appearances.

It’s a small sample size, but among the 229 hitters who made at least 80 trips to the plate this season, Meidroth ranked third in strikeout rate (10.6%), 16th in batting average, 13th in on-base percentage, seventh in slugging percentage, seventh in OPS (.982), seventh in isolated power (.250), 11th in line-drive rate (30.5%), and eighth in wRC+ (167), per FanGraphs.

Defensively, Meidroth saw all his playing time on the field this year come at second base. With Salem, the 5-foot-10, 170-pounder logged 114 1/3 innings at the keystone and did not commit an error.

Meidroth, who turned 21 in July, was regarded by Baseball America as the 258th-ranked prospect in the 2022 draft class after spending three years at San Diego, where he was selected to the All-West Coast Conference First Team as a sophomore.

The Torrance, Calif. native also spent part of his summer on Cape Cod, where he got a chance to swing a wood bat while slashing .286/.434/.381 with one home run and seven RBIs in 22 games (84 plate appearances) with the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox.

Per his Baseball America scouting report from before the draft, Meidroth “is a small hitter who uses a line drive swing with average bat speed to make lots of contact and spray the ball into the gaps. His home run power is almost exclusively to his pull side. … He is a below-average runner who is best at second base.”

While he is not yet on Baseball America’s Top 30 list, Meidroth is currently ranked by SoxProspects.com as the No. 52 prospect in Boston’s farm system. He is projected by the site to make the jump to High-A Greenville for the start of the 2023 season.

(Picture of Chase Meidroth: Robert Simmons/RTS Photography)

Red Sox’ Luis Perales identified by Baseball America as under-the-radar pitching prospect with great fastball

Luis Perales was recently identified by Baseball America as an under-the-radar pitching prospect with a great fastball.

Perales, 19, was one of three Red Sox prospects to make the publication’s Florida Complex League Top 10 Prospects list earlier this month. The young right-hander placed eighth after posting a 1.08 ERA and 2.31 FIP with 34 strikeouts to nine walks over nine appearances (seven starts) spanning 25 innings of work.

On August 18, Perales earned a late-season promotion to Low-A Salem. The native Venezuelan made four starts for the Salem Sox and produced a 3.38 ERA (5.44 FIP) with 16 strikeouts to 11 walks across 10 2/3 innings to close out the year.

“For us to push somebody at his age, who started off in the Dominican this year at the academy working out, to make his way to Salem is something we don’t see often,” Red Sox assistant general manager Eddie Romero told MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith. “So it’s pretty special.”

The Red Sox originally signed Perales for $75,000 as an international free agent coming out of Guacara in July 2019. But he did not make his professional debut until last summer after the 2020 minor-league season was shut down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. He then made just one start and pitched two innings in the Dominican Summer League in 2021.

“Overall, he’s so young that we’re just trying to get him consistent,” Romero said. “He’s young in age. But he also hasn’t pitched very much. So getting him mechanically consistent to let his stuff play. We know there’s velo in the fastball. The quality of the fastball is very good. It’s just one slight thing and it’s 98 and it’s moving off of the plate. So it’s just focusing on: throw the ball over the plate, work on your secondary (pitches), same thing, and then we can start refining things. But really for now, it’s keep it simple, throw the ball over the plate, let them try to hit it.”

As for what makes his fastball so great, Baseball America’s Geoff Pontes wrote, “Perales sits 94-97 mph, touching 98 mph at peak, with spin rates in the 2,400-2,500 rpm range and 19-20 inches of induced vertical break. While Perales’ strike and chase rates are just fringy, he has been able to induce whiffs on around 40% of swings this season, a number well above the minor league average. Perales’ fastball features a combination of power, movement and the ability to generate a difficult angle to the plate despite a fairly generic release. Command and strike-throwing are an issue at present, but at just 19 years old the fire-balling righthander has time to hone his craft in the coming years.”

In addition to his heater, the 6-foot-1, 160-pound righty also works with a “potentially plus breaking ball in the low-to-mid 80s and a changeup that flashes above-average” potential.

“We get caught up in attacking and game-planning for swing-and-miss. And when your stuff is that good, you don’t really need that,” said Romero. “Let the defense do some work and those swings-and-misses will come naturally in time. Just syncing up his delivery and making sure he’s in the strike zone. If he does that, he’ll be fine.”

Perales, who does not turn 20 until next April, has yet to throw more than three innings in any of his outings. The Red Sox, as noted by Romero, are exercising caution when it comes to managing his workload moving forward.

“He’s worked a decent amount of innings, just not official because they haven’t come in league play,” Romero said. “Whether it’s instructional league or winter program, he’s always built up. So he does have some innings under his belt. But when he’s done here, he’ll go into the instructional league also and work some. And then hopefully next year, we’ll see. He’ll be a very intriguing starting pitching prospect for us.”

(Picture of Luis Perales: Bryan Green/Flickr)

Red Sox’ Eddinson Paulino named Carolina League Player of the Week

Red Sox infield prospect Eddinson Paulino has been named the Carolina League Player of the Week for the week of August 29-September 4, Minor League Baseball announced on Monday.

In Low-A Salem’s last series on the road against the Augusta GreenJackets, Paulino went 8-for-20 (.400) with two doubles, three home runs, 10 RBIs, eight runs scored, two stolen bases, four walks, and three strikeouts over five games. All three of those homers came within a two-game span on Aug. 31 and Sept. 2.

On the 2022 season as a whole, the left-handed hitter is slashing .265/.358/.469 to go along with 34 doubles, 10 triples, 13 home runs, 66 runs driven in, 94 runs scored, 27 stolen bases, 63 walks, and 27 strikeouts across 112 games (531 plate appearances) for Salem.

Among qualified Carolina League hitters, Paulino ranks 24th in walk rate (11.9%), 15th in strikeout rate (19.4%), 15th in swinging-strike rate (11%), 14th in batting average, 18th in on-base percentage, fifth in slugging percentage, sixth in OPS (.828), fifth in isolated power (.204), fourth in line-drive rate (25.6%), sixth in speed score (8.5), and sixth in wRC+ (127), per FanGraphs.

On the other side of the ball, Paulino has proven to be a versatile weapon for Salem this season. After making his 11th start of the season in center field on Sunday, the 5-foot-10, 155 pounder has now logged 98 1/3 innings in center, eight innings in left field, 243 2/3 innings at second base, 275 innings at third base, and 301 innings at shortstop.

Paulino, 20, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 18 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The Red Sox originally signed the native Dominican for $205,000 as an international free-agent coming out of Santiago in July 2018.

Fast forward a little more than four years, and Paulino is now slated to become Rule 5 eligible for the first time in his career this winter. The Red Sox would need to add Paulino to their 40-man roster by the November deadline in order to protect him from December’s Rule 5 Draft.

In a recent conversation with The Athletic’s Chad Jennings, Boston’s director of player development Brian Abraham noted that these kinds of decisions are tougher to make since international players such as Paulino begin their careers much earlier than other prospects.

“Their clock starts a lot earlier and we’re having these conversations a lot sooner,” Abraham said. “I think you try to look at other players, and you’re always trying to compare where (other) guys were, body type physically, areas that we feel they can improve upon or have improved upon, vs. areas where we feel they might fall short. These decisions are always tough because there’s a limited number of spots.

“But I think, on our side (in player development), we are developing these players like they’re going to be with us for the long haul,” he added. “It’s always a balance in terms of the Rule 5, but some of the stuff with our staff and our coordinators and our (coaches), we’re not necessarily focused on that or worried about that. We’re just trying to get these guys ready for the next level.”

Barring a late-season promotion, Paulino is set to end the year in Salem. If he remains in the organization through the winter, he will likely break camp next spring with High-A Greenville.

(Picture of Eddinson Paulino: Gary Streiffer/Flickr)

Red Sox promote pitching prospect Juan Daniel Encarnacion to High-A Greenville

The Red Sox have promoted pitching prospect Juan Daniel Encarnacion from Low-A Salem to High-A Greenville, per the team’s minor-league transactions log.

Encarnacion, 21, has posted a 4.09 ERA and 3.33 FIP with 119 strikeouts to 39 walks over 24 appearances (23 starts) spanning 103 1/3 innings of work for Salem this season. That includes a 2.92 ERA across his last eight starts dating back July 15.

Among qualified Carolina League pitchers, Encarnacion ranks third in strikeouts per nine innings (10.36), fourth in strikeout rate (26.7%), sixth in groundball rate (43.9%), fifth in WHIP (1.30), second in FIP, and fourth in xFIP (4.12), per FanGraphs. The right-hander was named Carolina League Pitcher of the Week during the first week of June.

This is Encarnacion’s fourth full season in pro ball. The Red Sox originally signed the native Dominican for $40,000 as an international free-agent coming out of San Pedro de Macoris in September 2018. He made his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League the following June and pitched to a 3.86 ERA over 14 starts.

After the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the 2020 minor-league season getting cancelled, Encarnacion returned to affiliated ball last year and produced a 2.96 ERA over 12 outings (10 starts) and 45 2/3 innings in the rookie-level Florida Complex League.

Despite the relatively strong numbers he has put up at three different levels now, Encarnacion is not yet regarded by any major publication as one of the top pitching prospects in Boston’s farm system. Perhaps that has to do with his stuff.

According to SoxProspects.com, the lanky 6-foot-2, 173-pound righty operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a sinking 90-93 mph fastball that tops out at 94 mph, a 76-81 mph slider, and an 84-85 mph changeup. He “could develop into a very intriguing prospect” if his arsenal continues to improve.

Encarnacion, who does not turn 22 until next March, was not the only Red Sox pitching prospect to make the jump to Greenville on Tuesday. Fellow righties Graham Hoffman and Nate Tellier have also joined the Drive’s pitching staff, while Joey Stock was placed on the 7-day injured list due to a hand abrasion.

(Picture of Juan Daniel Encarnacion: Gary Streiffer/Flickr)

Red Sox promote power-hitting prospect Niko Kavadas to Double-A Portland

The Red Sox have promoted power-hitting prospect Niko Kavadas from High-A Greenville to Double-A Portland, per the team’s minor-league transactions log.

Selected by Boston in the 11th round of last year’s draft out of the University of Notre Dame, Kavadas began his first full professional season with Low-A Salem. The left-handed hitting first baseman proceeded to slash .286/.453/.609 with 14 home runs and 48 RBIs in 59 games with the Red Sox, prompting a promotion to Greenville in late June.

From there, Kavadas turned things up a notch by batting .308/.472/.592 to go along with four doubles, 10 home runs, 28 RBIs, 27 runs scored, 32 walks, and 42 strikeouts over 37 games (161 plate appearances) with the Drive leading up to Thursday’s promotion.

Among South Atlantic League hitters who have made at least 160 trips to the plate this season, Kavadas ranks second in walk rate (19.9%), 10th in batting average, first in on-base percentage, third in slugging percentage, second in OPS (1.064), third in isolated power (.283), and first in wRC+ (184), per FanGraphs.

Defensively, Kavadas has seen all his playing time this year come at first base. The 6-foot-1, 235-pounder has logged 612 total innings at the position between Salem and Greenville and has committed seven errors. It is safe to say he has a bat-first profile.

A native of Indiana, Kavadas is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 30 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The 23-year-old was previously unranked but has certainly put himself on the map this season.

Kavadas, who turns 24 in October, becomes the latest notable Red Sox prospect to make the jump from Greenville to Portland this year, joining the likes of Shane Drohan, Brian Van Belle, Alex Binelas, Nick Northcut, and Ceddanne Rafaela.

(Picture of Niko Kavadas: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox promote pitching prospect Luis Perales to Low-A Salem

With Wikelman Gonzalez and Luis Guerrero making the jump to High-A Greenville, the Red Sox have promoted pitching prospect Luis Perales from the Florida Complex League to Low-A Salem, according to SoxProspects.com’s Chris Hatfield.

Perales, 19, is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 24 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks ninth among pitchers in the organization. The Red Sox originally signed the Venezuelan-born right-hander for $75,000 as an international free-agent coming out of Guacara in July 2019.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic wiping out the 2020 minor-league season, Perales did not make his professional debut until last July. But he was limited to just two innings in his first and only start in the Dominican Summer League because of a minor arm injury.

Despite being shut down for the remainder of the 2021 campaign, Perales began the 2022 season in the rookie-level Florida Complex League. From there, the righty posted a miniscule 1.08 ERA and 2.34 FIP to go along with 34 strikeouts to nine walks over nine appearances (seven starts) spanning 25 innings of work for Boston’s Fort Myers-based affiliate.

Among FCL pitchers who have thrown at least 20 innings to this point in the year, Perales (as of Thursday morning) ranks 19th in strikeouts per nine innings (12.24), fifth in strikeout rate (36.2%), 16th in swinging strike rate (35.9%), third in batting average against (.119), fourth in WHIP (0.76), sixth in ERA, fifth in FIP, and 18th in xFIP (3.13), per FanGraphs.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 160 pounds, Perales throws from a three-quarters arm slot and operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a mid-90s fastball that tops out at 96-98 mph, an advanced curveball that sits in the mid-70s, and a developing changeup.

On top of all that, SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall recently tweeted that, according to some scouts, Perales has been the best pitcher in the FCL this year.

Perales, who does not turn 20 until next April, still has plenty of room to grow physically and developmentally. With that, if all goes well to close out this season, he will likely return to Salem next spring if he remains in the organization through the winter.

(Picture of Luis Perales: Bryan Green/Flickr)

Red Sox promote pitching prospects Wikelman Gonzalez, Luis Guerrero to High-A Greenville

The Red Sox have promoted top pitching prospect Wikelman Gonzalez from Low-A Salem to High-A Greenville, as was first reported by SoxProspects.com’s Chris Hatfield.

In addition to Gonzalez, fellow right-hander Luis Guerrero has also been promoted to Greenville.

Gonzalez, 20, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 14 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks sixth among pitchers in the organization. Fresh off being named the Carolina League Pitcher of the Week on Monday, the Venezuelan-born righty has posted a 4.54 ERA and 3.85 FIP with 98 strikeouts to 48 walks over 21 starts (81 1/3 innings) for Salem this season. That includes a 1.69 ERA (2.76 FIP) in the month of August.

Among Carolina League pitchers who have accrued at least 80 innings, Gonzalez ranks third in strikeouts per nine innings (10.84), fourth in strikeout rate (27.4%), second in batting average against (.209), and seventh in FIP, per FanGraphs.

Boston originally signed Gonzalez for $250,000 as an international free-agent coming out Maracay in July 18. The 6-foot, 170-pound hurler now “features an easy, compact delivery” and operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 93-94 mph fastball that tops out at 97 mph, an 87-89 mph changeup, and a 78-80 mph curveball, according to his Baseball America scouting report.

Guerrero, meanwhile, was selected by the Red Sox in the 17th round of last year’s amateur draft out of Chipola College in Marianna, Fla. The native Dominican signed with Boston for $122,500 last August.

Now 22 years old, Guerrero made his pro debut in the Florida Complex League earlier this summer before making the jump to Low-A in June. He has since pitched to a 4.18 ERA (3.54 FIP) to go along with 37 strikeouts to 14 walks across 18 relief outings spanning 23 2/3 innings of work with the Salem Sox.

Unlike Gonzalez, Guerrero is not regarded by any major publications as one of the top pitching prospects in Boston’s farm system. The 6-foot, 215-pounder does, however, work with a 92-94 mph fastball that tops out at 96 mph, an 80-83 mph changeup, an 81-83 mph slider, and a 75-79 mph curveball, per his SoxProspects.com scouting report.

(Picture of Wikelman Gonzalez: Gary Streiffer/Flickr)

Red Sox’ Blaze Jordan homers, collects career-best 4 hits in latest strong showing for High-A Greenville

Red Sox power-hitting prospect Blaze Jordan has certainly made the most of his promotion to High-A Greenville so far.

In the Drive’s 7-5 win over the Bowling Green Hot Rods on Tuesday night, Jordan went 4-for-5 with a solo home run, an RBI single, and two runs scored out of the three-hole. The four hits represent a single-game career high for the 19-year-old.

Since being promoted from Low-A Salem last week, Jordan has gone 10-for-23 (.435) at the plate with three homers, seven RBIs, seven runs scored, two walks, and five strikeouts in his first six games with Greenville.

The right-handed hitting infielder earned that promotion after batting .286/.357/.446 (123 wRC+) to go along with 40 extra-base hits (eight home runs), 57 runs driven in, 48 runs scored, four stolen bases, 37 walks, and 67 strikeouts across 95 games (415 plate appearances) with Salem to begin the season.

Defensively, Jordan has already logged 27 innings at third base and 18 innings at first base to begin his tenure with the Drive. The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder saw playing time at both of those positions — as well as designated hitter — while he was in Salem, where he was named Carolina League Player of the Week on two separate occasions.

Originally selected by the Red Sox in the third round of the pandemic-shortened 2020 draft out of DeSoto Central High School in Southaven, Miss., Jordan is currently regarded by Baseball America as the top power hitter and the No. 10 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Given that he has just recently made the jump to High-A, it seems likely that Jordan — who turns 20 in December — will return to Greenville for the start of the 2023 season if he remains in the organization through the winter.

(Picture of Blaze Jordan: Gwinn Davis/Greenville Drive)

Red Sox’ Wikelman Gonzalez named Carolina League Pitcher of the Week

Red Sox pitching prospect Wikelman Gonzalez has been named Carolina League Pitcher of the Week for the week of August 8-14, Minor League Baseball announced on Monday.

Gonzalez, 20, tossed six scoreless, no-hit innings in his last start for Low-A Salem in their contest against the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers on Saturday. The right-hander issued just one walk and plunked one batter to go along with five strikeouts on 81 pitches (49 strikes).

In 21 starts for Salem this season, Gonzalez has posted a 4.54 ERA — but much more respectable 3.83 FIP — with 98 strikeouts to 48 walks over 81 1/3 innings of work. That includes a 1.69 ERA (2.76 FIP) in the month of August.

Among Carolina League pitchers who have thrown at least 80 innings to this point in the year, Gonzalez ranks third in strikeouts per nine innings (10.84), fourth in strikeout rate (27.4%), second in batting average against (.209), and seventh in FIP, per FanGraphs.

While those numbers are certainly encouraging, Gonzalez has also produced the eighth-highest xFIP (4.49), the second-highest walk rate (13.4%), and the highest line-drive rate (28.3%) in the Carolina League when using those same parameters.

The Red Sox originally signed Gonzalez for $250,000 as an international free-agent coming out of Venezuela in July 2018. The Maracay native is now regarded by Baseball America as the No. 14 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks sixth among pitchers in the organization.

Since making his professional debut in June 2019, Gonzalez has pitched at three different levels. He began the 2021 campaign in the Florida Complex League before earning a promotion to Salem last August.

According to his Baseball America scouting report, the 6-foot, 170-pound hurler “features an easy, compact delivery” and operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 93-94 mph fastball that tops out at 97 mph, an 87-89 mph changeup, and a 78-80 mph curveball.

Gonzalez, who does not turn 21 until next March, can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career this winter. The Red Sox, of course, would need to add the righty to their 40-man roster by the November deadline in order to prevent that from happening.

Given his age and lack of experience in the upper-minors, though, it is no sure thing that another club would scoop up Gonzalez in December’s Rule 5 Draft if he were to be left unprotected by the Sox.

That club would then need to carry Gonzalez on their major-league roster for the entirety of the 2023 season or would otherwise have to offer him back to Boston if he could not stick with them.

In the meantime, one would have to think Gonzalez could be on the verge of a promotion to High-A Greenville when taking into consideration how he has pitched as of late.

(Picture of Wikelman Gonzalez: Gary Streiffer/Flickr)